This week we were at the Texas State Capitol in Austin for Transgender Advocacy Day and the following day we participated in the Senate Hearing for SB6 – the “women’s protection bill” that is actually an anti-trans bathroom bill. While the senators kept on saying this was not an anti-trans bill, that it was not targeting trans people, the verbiage clearly pointed out trans people. Can you tell me any other group of people that may not have their birth certificate in line with their gender identity? No, most of us are lucky that these documents match and we do not have to worry about it. For those where it does not match it is not always easy to have done and thus the problems these people face daily. If this process were made to be simpler and had some continuity throughout the statewide counties and municipalities involved, this would be a moot point.
“We had many large groups of transgender and allied constituents hitting up the offices of their representatives..”
Advocacy day was a bit of a harried shuffle. We had many large groups of transgender and allied constituents hitting up the offices of their representatives, hoping to make some form of contact and mostly having NO luck. It was very frustrating to say the least. To be totally honest, most of the offices while seemingly polite, they were obviously mostly more put out with having to keep discussing the same issues over and over with the groups coming to visit. For those of us that had never done this before, it was very disheartening and disappointing. I mean these are people we elect and they work for us, so they should make themselves present when we are scheduled through the Capitol for a specific Advocacy Day such as this, especially when there is a Senate Bill going to be heard the very next day that personally affected so many of these very visitors. It makes you wonder how intentional their absences were. I do not know if anyone that was actually able to speak directly with a senator or representative; I personally made 5 office stops and none were available, only their staff. While I know they have other things going on, we were also refused by one particular office to even schedule anything in the future.
The next day following Advocacy Day, the Senate Committee for State Affairs had a hearing on SB6 and heard from those that were mostly in opposition. There were more than 400 signed up to speak but due to the great amount of time it took throughout the very lengthy hearing process, 271 in opposition people were able to stick it out and spoke in the 14 plus hours. Only about 44 spoke in favor of the bill over the duration. There were way more written testimonies submit in opposition; 1303 people registered NO to SB6, while only 202 registered YES for SB6! The odds were greatly in favor of opposition, but the committee clearly did not listen. Despite the massive outcry regarding the blatant anti-trans bathroom bill, the committee voted around 5:00am and passed 7-1 FOR the bill to move to the larger senate floor. The lone dissent came from Senator Judith Zaffirini – D, from West Texas. She posed many excellent questions during the testimonies and her vote in opposition was immensely appreciated. I know they have other things going on, but we were also refused by one particular office to even schedule anything in the future.
“While this had been an experience in our democratic processes, it was perhaps one of the hardest days to ever sit through.”
While this had been an experience in our democratic processes, it was perhaps one of the hardest days to ever sit through. Not only it was hours upon hours of many wonderful trans people of all ages speaking their truth and sharing their stories, many of those being their horrible struggles and people speaking against the very existence of trans folks. It was truly heartbreaking to hear the anti-trans rhetoric. I have written about this before, but the amount of trans people thrown out or not accepted and loved by their families is staggering, I cannot imagine the pain they deal with and hope I am able to help even a few of those by loving them. There were so many stories of general hate, abuse, violence, and mistreatment merely for trying to live. The committee seemed at times to not even care to hear the stories shared. They were carrying on their own conversations and laughing to themselves in the most inappropriate times – really carrying an air of unprofessionalism. It was maddening and made me so angry. One person testifying even asked the panel to stop talking while she was speaking her testimony. She is my hero!
It was a long day for all, but to these marginalized people listening to their government officials as well as the 40 or so in agreement with the bill do things such as misgender them, call them perverts or perverse, tell them they were sick or mentally ill, disregard all the similar stories of discrimination and abuse; sexual and physical as well as verbal, and just mistreat them all the way around, it was a literal living nightmare. So many tears were shed by not only trans people, but allies and momma and poppa bears throughout this day and so much strength showed and shared despite the vitriol and hate spewed by some. It was truly so hard to process and fight through but at the same time a wonderful feeling to be able to share this experience with so many brave and loving souls.
While the Senate Affairs committee has moved on to another issue, the trans community and its supporters will be following this anti-trans bathroom bill until it finalizes. We are hopeful it will not make it the House of Representatives but if it does, that it fails. I will be back in Austin on March 20th, for LGBT Advocacy Day with many more freedom fighters. We will go through the democratic process of voicing our opinions to those staffers stuck in the office while their bosses vacate. We will continue to call the local offices as well as write personal letters to the Senators and Representatives until we see equality for ALL.
#yallmeansall #NoH8inmystate #transrights #transfamily